To his credit, Neil Simon never stops trying to expand. With several solid successes in the comedy genre behind him, he attempted something here that wasn't merely a pack of one-liners but had an underlying pathos and humanity. George C. Scott and Maureen Stapleton opened on Broadway in
the show, which ran more than 1,000 performances with Mike Nichols directing. Stapleton returns to do one of the three vignettes, as does Lee Grant, who did the Road Show version playing another of the parts, and Barbara Harris in the middle segment. Simon's plays are almost always one-set jobs,
and the task of adapting them for the screen is not an enviable one, since movie fans will often carp that they are photographed stage plays of people talking with no cinematic value. Since this picture takes place in one suite at New York's Plaza Hotel, its staginess was all the more evident. The
only unifying force in the trio of stories is Matthau in a tour-de-force job as three very different men. There were to be four stories in the original, and the one that was dropped was used as the basis for Simon's original screenplay of THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS. Director Hiller had just come off LOVE
STORY, and there was some doubt as to whether he could direct a comedy.
The first segment has Matthau and Stapleton as a middle-aged couple trying to revive their failing marriage in what they believe is the same suite they occupied on their wedding night. In the second segment, Matthau is a Hollywood producer who attempts to seduce Harris with his endless store of
motion picture anecdotes. The final, funniest sketch has Matthau driven to distraction when his daughter locks herself in the bathroom and refuses to come out for her wedding ceremony.
Of the female roles, Harris steals the picture. Critics were divided in their assessment of PLAZA SUITE, but we have to stand in the "pro" corner, although Simon has had some terrible adaptations (STAR SPANGLED GIRL) and even some bummer screenplays of his own, as in THE SLUGGER'S WIFE.
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- Released: 1971
- Rating: GP
- Review: To his credit, Neil Simon never stops trying to expand. With several solid successes in the comedy genre behind him, he attempted something here that wasn't merely a pack of one-liners but had an underlying pathos and humanity. George C. Scott and Maureen… (more)